Moving Day: New Blog Launched!

Well…the day has finally come after a long hiatus from blogging. I have moved this blog to a new self hosted site. Along with the new address, I have changed the look and name of the blog. The new address is www.jalash.com so be sure to change your feeds, links, and bookmarks. The new name of the blog is Lashville. And the new look…well…you can check it out for yourself. I look forward to picking things back up and engaging in thoughtful dialogue with you all once again. See ya in Lashville.

Hang with Me

Well…you might have noticed that my blogging has been hit and miss the past week or so. But hang tight and don’t abandon ship just yet. My time blogging has recently been spent preparing my new self-hosted blog which will launch in the near future. I’m learning as I go so it is taking me a little longer than I expected. So…all of this means a new location and a new look. I know…so many changes. However, hosting my own blog gives me limitless flexibility and options for the future. So hang with me for a bit longer and we’ll launch the new site soon.

In the meantime, let’s continue the Mac vs. PC discussion that never really got off the ground. I’m still waiting for someone to carry the banner of PC against the trendy Mac. Who dares to step forward?

The Monday Muse: Mac vs. PC

Undoubtedly you have all seen the commercials on TV. “Apple” is just hanging out, dressed down and lowkey, when uptight “PC” comes wandering up decked out in a business suit. The stark contrast is undeniable. In fact, every aspect of the appearance and encounter is opposed to one another. This is how Apple sees itself in comparison to its greatest competitor Microsoft (or all PC’s for that matter). It’s Mac vs. Microsoft for computer world domination.

I have an HP laptop at home but work on an older Apple G4 laptop at work. I guess I get the best of both worlds. There are things I like better about each one as I compare using them throughout the week. So…here’s the question for this week:

Which computer is better: Mac or PC?

Apple has a cult-like following so I’m wondering if anyone will stand tall and represent PC. This week will tell.

The Florida Outpouring: See It For Yourself

In our last post, we touched base on the Florida Outpouring and highlighted some of the responses to it. What I want to do now is to let you see it for yourself. Let me preface the first few clips by saying that they are obviously only segments of entire services. Nevertheless, I believe the segments give us enough reason to show a great deal of concern about the ministry of Todd Bentley. See for yourself.

The Florida Outpouring has garnered so much attention that ABC Nightline decided to check things out for themselves. They put together an investigative story on the events in Lakeland which included an interview with Todd Bentley.

Part 1:

Part 2:

It’s the same story with a different person. How many men like Todd Bentley have we seen emerge in the past twenty to thirty years? Too many. Yet the story is always the same. A guy comes with a new word from the Lord with the message and gift of healing and people flock to him. Then he is exposed as a fraud and the guy (Popoff, Hinn, Bentley) fades off into the distance. His ministry and message become a historical reference point. Left behind is a path of broken lives. Churches split. People abandon their faith. Others continue to be carried away by the false claims and teaching. It is a recurring pattern that needs to end. Lives are at stake. Souls are at stake.

In part 3, I will voice some of my specific concerns with this movement and ministry. Stay tuned.

The Florida Outpouring: Movement of the Spirit?

If you haven’t heard about the healing revivals going on down in Lakeland, FL then you have been living in a cave. News of the anointings and healings has spread quickly. People are coming from around the globe to experience what is being called the Florida Outpouring. Some people are calling it a move of the Holy Spirit, the miracle work of God. Other people are more skeptical of the authenticity of the healings.

Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, was quoted as saying that “Hugh Hefner is not nearly as dangerous to the church as someone like this.” As Tchividjian says, “I would pay much more attention to those people who have stood the test of time. I would pay very little attention to anyone who comes and says, ‘God told me something that he’s never told anyone else, and you can’t find it in the Bible.’ It’s a lie, it’s that simple.”

However, some people might argue that such criticism in unwarranted. How can we judge a person’s heart and what happens between him and the Lord? Who are we to say that God did not tell Todd Bentley and his ministry to start kneeing and kicking people as a means to heal them? Who are we to quench the spirit?

Melinda at Stand to Reason challenges the significance of this new movement and the notion that such movements are the norm. As she says,

Let me say it straight out: This is just weird. And for some reason, a lot of Christians have a taste for the weird, as though the weirder something is the more likely that the Holy Spirit is behind it. The Spirit could be behind some weird things, but it’s sure not a sign of the Spirit’s working. And the outlandish claims and actions exciting the audience at these gatherings sure seem to assume that the weirder the more spiritual. Pentecost must have been a pretty weird day (though it doesn’t seem quite as strange as these new claims), but Acts gives us no reason to believe that was the regular, steady diet the Spirit served up for the new Christians.

Bene Diction Blogs On has been covering this story in detail for some time now. Living in Canada, he is quite familiar with Todd Bentley as well as the similarities to another neocharistmatic movement from the mid 90’s known as the Toronto Blessing. Among other things, Bene Diction made note of the connection between the Nightline story on Todd Bentley and his announcement to take some time off. Bene Diction goes on to compare Bentley to Peter Popoff, Jim Bakker, and other suspect ministers and ministries. As he says,

I’ve no doubt Todd Bentley will be back. Think Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Peter Popoff. Benny Hinn, Richard Bonnke. There will be no transparency and honesty coming from the Fresh Fire crowd or God TV about finances, lies, heresy, and we won’t be seeing repentance unless it suits the powers behind Lakeland to get the show back on the road; it’s easier to get him out of the way for awhile until the public shock and outrage dies down. There are 50 more ‘apostles’ ready to take Bentleys place, but they don’t have the crowd manipulation skills Bentley has. Yet.

William Dembski, research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, experienced Bentley’s revival service and healing claims for himself in Denton, Texas. In a sad series of events, Dembski tells the story of his 7-year-old son’s battle with autism and his families decision to give Bentley a chance to work a miracle. Their experience left them empty with many unanswered questions especially from their children. Dembski wraps up his thoughts on it all in this way.

Neither my wife nor I regret going. It was an education. Our kids are resilient. But the ride home raised a question. We found ourselves avoiding talking about the event until the children fell asleep. Then, as they drifted off in the early morning, we talked in hushed tones about how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family. What do we tell our children? I’m still working on that one.

How can we evaluate the validity of a movement based on movements of the Spirit? What does that mean exactly? If we were to test it based on a relativistic worldview, we might conclude that if it works for you then great. However, there are so many flaws in this line of thinking. What if shooting a guy in the head feels good to me? What if eliminating a people group because they don’t belong to my tribe feels good to me? We could go on with this argument. If it’s based on feelings, where can we draw the line while remaining consistent in our commitment? We cannot completely discount our feelings but at the same time we cannot completely trust them either.

More to come…

The Monday Muse: The Church as Community

I love reading the book of Acts. It always makes me reconsider the current church landscape. How should the church function? What should it look like? We should all hold the understanding that the church is a body of people and not a building. Sometimes we forget this truth. It is easy to do in the midst of our CEO-driven churches. I fear that many churches function more like businesses than than gathering of God worshipers. I know that is an oversimplification. There is certainly a business element to any group who owns real estate and must manage funds. This is true, of course, if you believe that the church is best served in this form.

In Acts 2 and 4, the church is referred to as a community of believers. They pull together all of their possessions and resources. They share everything. They live in community. It is a challenging notion whether in a literal sense or in principle. But that’s just it…is it principle or a more literal example?

What seems to be the best and most faithful expression of the community of believers?

I will be very interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. I am constantly wrestling with different ideas but never quite settle things. So let’s try to work this out together. Game on.

A Secret Date: Panera and Ingrid

A few weeks ago I sprung a surprise on my wife just when she thought we were headed to the Y for our usual evening workout. “Change of plans.” With those words we made a few stops including home and then set out on our secret date. First stop…

Panera Bread. It just so happens that Panera is one of my wife’s favorite restaurants. Chances are good that you will find us there every couple of weeks scooping up our favorite soups (mine=Broccoli Cheddar; Annie=Baked Potato) with a French Baguette. Slam that home with half of a turkey sandwich and you have a winner. It’s a golden meal.

After picking two at Panera, we hit the road for destination #2. Annie tried everything to make me give up the location but I was rock solid. Initially she thought we were headed for a drive-in movie which would have been a great date. Nope…I had bigger plans. As we approached the spot, she caught a glimpse of the sign and broke into a high pitched scream with rapid hand clapping. Destination #2…Exit In for a live performance by Ingrid Michaelson. Annie is a big Ingrid fan and it was her first time to see Ingrid live. Ingrid is a very creative artist and the show highlighted her creative personality. She was telling stories and cutting up most of the evening. We felt like we were all just hanging out at a party or barbecue. It was a really good show. Most importantly, Annie had a great time.

 

At the end of the night we were exhausted but it was well worth it. The look on Annie’s face throughout the night was priceless. Secret dates are a lot of fun and a great way to keep your wife on her toes. Trust me, she’ll appreciate it.

(As you can tell, the guy who took this pic was a little tipsy. It’s hard to get that sixth finger out of the flash.)